Limerick start-up ALR offered equity funding worth €50k from AIB Seed Fund

6 Jul 2012

Dr Lisa O'Donoghue, ALR; Frank Walsh, AIB, Enterprise Equity; and Dr Maria Hinfelaar, president of Limerick Institute of Technology

A Limerick company that has designed the world’s first automated recycling technology for flat-screen TVs has been offered equity investment from AIB Seed Capital worth €50,000 after claiming first prize in the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) LEAP Business Awards.

ALR Innovations, founded by Limerick engineer Dr Lisa O’Donoghue, expects to commence manufacturing in 2013 and is already at an advanced stage of discussions with potential customers for the technology in Ireland, Europe and the Far East.

The company has been awarded seed funding and consultancy supports to the value of €75,000.

The awards were for companies on LIT’s Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Platform (LEAP) and were presented by Minister at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government Jan O’Sullivan at the Millennium Theatre, LIT.

The total €100,000 LEAP Business Awards fund is the largest administered by any of the 16 enterprise programmes for start-up businesses at institutes of technology in Ireland.

ALR claimed a first prize of equity investment from AIB Seed Capital, which is managed by Enterprise Equity, to the tune of €50,000. It also received a cheque from LIT for €5,000, plus €25,000 worth of consultancy/supports, including legal advice from Holmes O’Malley Sexton and mentoring from the Discovery Partnership. The winner will also receive free membership to Limerick Chamber. ALR also received an award for best intellectual property, sponsored by the Discovery Partnership.

ALR’s multimillion-dollar opportunity

ALR’s technology is driven by international regulatory directives on the mandatory removal of hazardous materials from LCD screens. In 2011 alone, US$105m of new LCD units will be sold on a global scale with Europe accounting for more than 35m of these units.

Materials contained within LCD screens hold significant financial value and recycling organisations actively tender for the opportunity to recycle screens. The potential customers range from small-scale SME recyclers to large multinationals that operate shred-and-sort facilities. 

ALR’s technology will be capable of recycling up to 80 units per hour, compared to the current manual rate of three to four units per hour by recycling companies.

“I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed mentoring and support on a range of areas of the business, including developing a business plan ready for market, through the LEAP programme over the past 12 months,” O’Donoghue said.

“But this award is a huge boost for my company and at a critical time.

“Securing funding is extremely difficult in the current environment for start-ups, but the package available now, including the equity offer from AIB Seed Capital Fund, gives the business great security at what is a really exciting and a very important stage of its development.”

The award is the latest accolade for the emerging young company and its CEO O’ Donoghue. The company has reaped the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010, the JCI Young Person of the Year Award 2011 and the Molex Frederick A. Krehbiel II Medal for frontier research with this recycling technology.

What is LEAP?

LEAP is an incubator programme for early stage companies and of the 73 companies that participated in LEAP over its first five years – 2007 to 2011 – 59 of them are today sustainable businesses employing about 250 people.  

Second place in the awards went to Co Clare company Lavida Food Ltd, which specialises in the sourcing and supply of high quality, gluten-free foods for the wholesale and retail market in the UK and Ireland. It receives a package worth €15,000, including €5,000 in cash from LIT, plus legal and mentoring supports, and Limerick Chamber membership. 

The third-placed company, games design and development company NeverMind Games, from Thurles, Co Tipperary, received €1,500 in cash plus similar supports. Fourth prize went to Eventmaster, an online event registration and ticketing company.

“AIB Seed Capital recognises the huge contribution which entrepreneurship has to play in the economic recovery, and incubation programmes, such as LIT’s LEAP programme, play an important part stimulating and supporting entrepreneurship,” explained Frank Walsh, a partner in Enterprise Equity, which jointly manages the AIB Seed Capital Fund of €53m on an annual basis.

“ALR Innovations led by Dr Lisa O’ Donoghue is an extremely worthy winner for its technological innovation and leadership and we look forward to working with them in the future,” Walsh said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years